THE DANBERRYS – Shine (Singular Recordings)

ShineThe Danberrys’ Shine is filled with spooky Americana old time medicine show stuff. This record carves a deep wagon wheel groove, like (the world famous!) Hamlin’s Wizard Oil Company, who brought music and happy times to the masses, and also sold its Wizard Oil, an alleged cure for just about everything.

Well, there’s musical elixir in these tunes, too.

Apparently, this is a departure from a previous acoustic sound. Well, as Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup sang, “That’s All Right” because Shine pulses with Americana dust, which is eerie dust, tumble weed dust, ghost town dust, Turkey Scratch, Arkansas dust, Mark Twain dust, and Moon landing dust. And because of democracy, it’s all about the very same and equally melodic dust.

The title track bounces with Bayou charm, and it’s really nice to know the sound of John Fogerty’s “hound dog chasin’ down a hoodoo” is still alive and well. And thank you to Marco Giovino for his dancing duppy drumbeat.

‘Holding The Bag’ lightens the weight but deepens the depth. An accordion exhales the tune while Dorothy Daniel’s vocals soar like a really decent prayer dipped in okra gumbo.

And then Ben DeBarry ups the raunchy guitar dial on his amp, and ‘The Road’ spits and stings like the wicked words of an Eden serpent’s temptation. Good rock ‘n’ roll always gifts forbidden fruit with a seductive melody.

A point of reference: Fans of Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson’s brilliant Rattlin’ Bones will find this album has more Appalachian soup beans, cornbread, and chow chow. So sure, as Elvis Costello sang, “blame it on Cain”, Shine thumps the Bible with well-worn and wearied tears.

There’s more Americana vernacular: ‘Francis’ slows the pace with a spiritual confession that begs for humanity’s “halo of silver and gold” and really does approach the soulful music of The Band’s ‘Unfaithful Servant’. And ‘Never Gone’ goes further into the waters of contrition. ‘The River Is Wide’ is slow and intense and bubbles with the trauma paid to Charon for a dark ride. The soulful pulse continues with ‘The Mountain’. This one slips with funky roots, a nice slide guitar, and Darrell Scott’s very excellent background vocals. ‘Undertow’ oozes more tough bluesy stew.

And then there is a bit of obvious optimism: ‘Love Conquers War’ is drenched with melodic hope. It’s always a good thing to toss a hopeful coin into any turbulent river. A lot of people should sing this song. It’s a nice respite. ‘The Coals Glow’ slides with the personification of “stubborn light”. ‘Maddie’s Ghost’ gets all Dire Straits brisk with a breeze of a tune.

The final song, ‘Rain’, is quick and acoustic with Ben DeBerry on joint lead vocal with wife Dorothy (more of that, please!).

So, yeah, prayers and okra gumbo, indeed! But there are stories here, stories of sorrow and stories of faith. And there’s deep spirituality, too. But, as Walt Whitman said, “I hear America singing”, and Shine sings with grooved Hamlin’s Wizard Oil Company’s medicine show music, which is always ready for a certain rock ‘n’ roll Americana tug at any forbidden tree fruit watered with that Wizard Oil magical and musical elixir cure.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website:

‘Shine’ – official video:

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